Friday, 24 May 2013

Beauty and the Beast (1991) - ★★★★★

Director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Writers: (Huge collaberation)
Voice Actors: Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, Angela Lansbury, David Ogden Stiers

Here it is! I'm gonna call it now! Beauty and the Beast is the greatest Disney movie ever made. I'm barely a quarter way through my Disney Blogathon, yet I can't see anything else beating this. There are a few contenders I suspect will challenge this film (The Lion King, Cinderella), but deep down I feel that Beauty and the Beast is even better than all others. The music is perfect, the animation is unmatched, the story is beautiful, the characters are hilarious! No matter what I say, I feel I can't do this movie justice. I'll just go right ahead and point out what makes this my pick for "Greatest Disney Movie Ever Made."

There once was a prince, vain and judgmental on appearances. When an ugly old woman asks to stay at his castle on a stormy night, he refuses her entry. The old woman turned out to be a beautiful enchantress. She warned him that real beauty comes from within, then cursed the prince, his castle and all of the inhabitants. The prince was turned into a beast and lived as a recluse since that fateful night.

"There must be more than this provincial life!" - Belle
Terrible circumstances led a beautiful young woman named Belle to wander into his castle, eventually becoming a prisoner of the beast. The servants of the castle believe that she may be their last hope to break the curse, for the only way to lift the spell is to have someone fall in love with the beast. We're sent on a journey with these two social outcasts, to see whether they can look past their differences and fall in love with one another.

I don't think there is a single aspect of the film better than the other. Everything compliments each other, making it the perfect film. However, if there was one thing I enjoyed the most, it would have to be the music. Beauty and the Beast has one of the best soundtracks in the history of Disney. Tale as Old as Time would have to be my favorite. The scene where Belle dances with The Beast to that song is absolutely enchanting. Angela Lansbury performed that song in one take, immortalizing her as the wonderful Mrs. Potts. There were several other songs that were beautiful and hilarious, most notably Be Our Guest and I've Never Felt This Way Before.

In my opinion, the animation in this film is unparalleled. There is no other animated film more beautiful than this (excluding the works of Studio Ghibli). If ever there were a debate on whether 2D animations are better than 3D, Beauty and the Beast would be the deal breaker. Each scene looks like a painting, I was in awe everything on screen. Particularly the scene where Belle and The Beast dance together in a giant dancing hall. The columns, the chandelier, the stars, the floors, the ceiling, Belle's magnificent golden dress, Tale as Old as Time being sung... YOU CAN'T BEAT THAT SCENE! That is the single, greatest scene in the history of Disney animation.

I absolutely adored every single character in this film... except Gaston (the bad guy). That's what I call character development done right. Belle is an amazing role model who refuses to adhere to social norms and just follows her heart, doing whatever the hell she wants. I would've preferred her as a plain Jane (to better suit the moral of the story), but then you can't have everything. The Beast was surprisingly lovable. We could sympathize with his loneliness... his sadness at being feared by all who look upon him. When Belle and The Beast finally started to become friends, I couldn't stop smiling. Their relationship just makes me so happy.

That's just the two main characters! The rest were each as funny, quirky and interesting! Lumiere the candlestick was freaking hilarious! He was a promiscuous, romantic, lovely Frenchman that provided many of the laughs throughout the film. Of course, he would be nothing without his chime-clock friend Cogsworth, who is stuffy, careful, posh and very funny. My favorite... Mrs Potts. That wonderful teapot reminds me of everything nice in the world, like marshmallows and hugs!

So there you have it, my early favorite for "Greatest Film Disney Ever Made." It's the absolute pinnacle of Disney. I can't think of a better film made before Beauty and the Beast, or after it. I'm sure there are many who disagree with me, but this is just my personal opinion. There's a reason this was the first animated film ever nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The story is timeless and the moral "Never judge a book by its cover" reads loud and clear. Yes, very few Disney films have ever made me cry... but every time I watch Beauty and the Beast, I shed a tear.

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